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Mystical Realms Newsletter for September, 2007
From California, USA
Better late than never! Sorry Jef for the delay in listing this...
And welcome to my newsletter for September, 2007. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me! To receive these newsletters regularly, please drop me an email or subscribe online at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of new paintings and events are at the bottom of this email... with there's lots of new and exciting news this month!
The phone rang. Thinking it was a friend returning my call, I picked up rather than letting the answering machine take a message. The voice on the other end explained that I didn't know him, but that he and his wife were the owners of a house Lorraine and I had built in the 1990s. He wanted to know more about the house, and about the folks who had designed it.
Lorraine and I built the MarshNest in 1990, planning to someday live in this cottage overlooking the salt marshes of the Gulf coast of Florida. Because of hurricanes, the place was perched 17 feet above ground level, and the view was at or above the tops of the surrounding trees.
Lorraine and I had been miserable at the time. We were in high stress jobs that gave neither fulfillment nor a real sense of financial security. We were not church-goers, and had no community or friends other than the people we knew at work. The money was good, but that was all. And, in order to compensate for our suffering, we had decided to create a small paradise for ourselves away from the big city.
We were in love with the marshes, the tides, and the wildlife. We escaped to the MarshNest as often as we could...frequently once a month or more. Our encounters with wildlife instilled in us a deep sense of home, of love, of wonder. We felt God so clearly in the marshes that we slowly began to seek Him out closer to home.
Over the ensuing years, I became more and more interested in the Catholic faith. Its mysticism coupled with its grounding in reason was a paradoxical package I could not resist exploring. And Lorraine, likewise, was awakened to the possibility of returning to her childhood faith. We began attending Mass, and in 1994 I was received into the Church.
The subsequent years changed almost everything about us. I began helping others explore ways out of dead-end wage slavery at the same time I plotted a way for us to leave our own high stress jobs. The MarshNest was still a solace, but as we found ourselves more and more engaged with our community at home, we no longer felt that the marshes were the only places where we could experience God's love. We experienced Him in our church choir, in talks I gave to others on getting out of debt and exploring their dreams, in work we did with the Missionary Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa's order).
In 1997, we sold the cottage, freeing ourselves up, simultaneously, to explore the possibility of leaving our careers and pursuing goals that we'd not had since childhood: goals of contributing something of beauty back to the world, of bolstering others' faith and hope, of sharing some of our own sense of wonder not just at creation, but also at the care with which God will lead you if you'll let Him.
"We just love the place," said the voice at the other end of the line. "We feel God so strongly here that we thought we'd like to know something about the folks who built it."
I couldn't explain to the caller the whole of our journey, but it struck me suddenly that, perhaps, this was the beginning of his. Our giving up of something that we had loved so much so many years ago was allowing someone else to take a few teetering steps down his own spiritual path. And with this thought, I was overcome once again with awe and wonder at the mystery, the mercy, and the magic of God's world.
Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),
- I feel delighted and honoured to have been asked to be a guest of honor at the upcoming Tolkien celebration, "A Long-Expected Party" (ALEP) in Kentucky in September, 2008. This celebration is a fan-created event, and it is hoped that it will be the first of many. In addition to bringing original artwork to the Shaker Village venue and participating in talks and panels, I was asked to develop one of the logos used for the event. You can see it on my website at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... hes/Sketch_ALEP_logo.html . The official website for ALEP (and registration info) can be found at: http://www.alongexpectedparty.org/ . Since space is limited at the venue, I'd urge anyone interested in attending to register and book their rooms as soon as possible.
- Oxonmoot 2007 is nearly upon us, and in addition to having eight of my signed prints included in this year's art show, I was also delighted to have been asked to once again develop the cover artwork for this year's Oxonmoot Information (OI) booklet. I've included a copy of the cover page on my website at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... tch_oxonmoot_oi_2007.html .
- Regarding my website, I have been furiously updating it to include much more information about all of the paintings and prints I have available. This includes commentary on each piece as well as new prints and print options. Plus, I've rearranged and renamed several galleries. I am once again including my "Wildlife Silhouette" original works on the site, and these can be viewed in the "Dragons & Whimsical Beasts" gallery and the "Wildlife" gallery. I'll be adding to those shown over the next weeks. Please let me know what you think of the new look at http://www.JefMurray.com !
- One of the new features of my "Tolkien-Inspired Works" gallery is that paintings are now grouped by the different Ages of Middle-earth. The top of the gallery includes all of my interpretations of events from "The Lord of the Rings". Next come images from "The Hobbit", then from the Second Age, and finally, from the First Age. I hope this new organization will make it easier to find things. Please also note that within each section, the newest works will always be the first shown.
- Still related to website updates, I now have a gallery of "Recently Sold" works. This will become an ongoing repository for original paintings and Wildlife Silhouettes that have recently been purchased by patrons. Please take a look at: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmu ... efmurraystudios/sold.html .
- The September/October issue of Amon Hen, the bimonthly newsletter of the Tolkien Society, features a cover that I was honored to have been asked to design. It commemorates the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit with a painting of the dragon Smaug.
- The White Tree Fund (see http://www.whitetreefund.org/ ) is now accepting memberships and is in the process of finalizing details for publication of "Silver Leaves", their new journal. I was asked to contribute several painting images and sketches for their use in this inaugural issue of "Silver Leaves". Included in these was the cover image, which incorporated my painting of the high seat at Amon Hen.
Posted on: 2007/10/5 23:18
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